Scars Above- A Promising Trek Through Alien Horrors


Scars Above, a challenging sci-fi action-adventure title from Mad Head Games, captivated gamers in 2023 with its unique blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, and brutal combat. Set on a hostile alien world, the game throws you into the shoes of Kate Ward, a resourceful scientist stranded after a mysterious space anomaly deposits her team on an unforgiving planet.

Here, we’ll delve into the depths of Scars Above, dissecting its core gameplay mechanics, narrative, and overall strengths and weaknesses.

A World of Woe: Exploring the Depths of Scars Above

Scars Above unfolds on a nightmarish alien world teeming with grotesque flora and fauna. The developers have crafted a visually impressive environment, with a mix of desolate landscapes, overgrown jungles, and bioluminescent caverns. While not groundbreaking, the visuals create a suitably oppressive atmosphere that complements the game’s challenging gameplay.

Exploration is a central pillar of Scars Above. You’ll traverse this alien world, scavenging for resources, uncovering secrets through environmental storytelling, and encountering a variety of hostile creatures.

The game borrows elements from the Soulslike genre, with environmental hazards and punishing enemy encounters that can quickly send you back to the last checkpoint. Death isn’t a cheap penalty; you lose accumulated biomass, the game’s primary resource used for crafting weapons, ammo, and upgrades. This constant pressure to manage resources and stay alive adds a layer of tension to the exploration.

However, some reviewers have pointed out that the initial areas can feel repetitive, with later environments offering a more visually engaging experience.

A Scientist’s Arsenal: Combating the Alien Unknown

Scars Above equip you with a unique arsenal that blends scientific tools with more traditional weaponry. Kate, being a scientist, utilizes a “Scanner” to analyze alien lifeforms and environments. This scanner plays a crucial role in combat, allowing you to identify enemy weaknesses and exploit them strategically.

Weapons like the “Plasma Cutter” and “Grenade Launcher” offer a variety of offensive options, and the game encourages experimentation with elemental effects. For example, combining fire and ice damage can create devastating combos against certain enemies.

While the combat system has its merits, some reviewers have criticized a lack of weapon variety and a feeling of the challenge becoming trivial later in the game as your arsenal grows more powerful.

Unveiling the Scars: Narrative and World-Building

Scars Above’s narrative unfolds through a combination of environmental storytelling, audio logs, and character interactions. The story focuses on Kate’s struggle for survival and her quest to unravel the mysteries of this strange alien world.

The game’s lore is intriguing, hinting at a greater cosmic event that brought the anomaly to Earth. However, critics have pointed out that the narrative can feel underdeveloped, with some plot points left unresolved and character development lacking depth.

The Verdict: Scars That Linger or Fade Away?

Scars Above is a game with a lot of potential. It offers a compelling blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, and challenging combat. The unique scientific approach to weaponry and the oppressive atmosphere of the alien world create a distinct experience.

However, the game is not without its flaws. Repetitive early environments, a lack of weapon variety, and a somewhat underdeveloped narrative hold it back from achieving greatness.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Scars Above’s pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the right game for you:


  • Challenging and rewarding gameplay that blends exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat
  • Unique scientific approach to weaponry and resource management
  • Oppressive and visually impressive alien world
  • Intriguing lore with hints of a larger story


  • Repetitive early environments
  • Lack of weapon variety in the later stages
  • Underdeveloped narrative and character development

Ultimately, Scars Above caters to gamers who enjoy a challenge and appreciate a unique blend of sci-fi themes with Soulslike mechanics. However, if you’re looking for a deeply engaging story or a vast arsenal of weapons, you might want to look elsewhere.

Here are some additional points to consider before diving into Scars Above:

  • Difficulty: The game is known for its challenging combat and unforgiving nature. Be prepared to die frequently and manage your resources carefully.
  • Length: Scars Above can be completed in around 15-20 hours, depending on your playstyle and exploration habits.
  • Who should play it?: If you enjoy Soulslike games, challenging sci-fi experiences, and resource management mechanics, Scars Above is worth checking out.


Q. Is Scars Above difficult?

Yes, Scars Above is known for its challenging gameplay. It takes inspiration from the “Soulslike” genre, which means tough enemies, limited resources, and a focus on learning enemy patterns and methodical combat.

Q. What are the good things about Scars Above?

  • Unique blend of genres: The mix of exploration, puzzle-solving, and scientific analysis is praised for offering a fresh take on the sci-fi action genre.
  • Interesting world: The alien world is full of strange creatures and environments to explore, keeping players engaged in the unknown.
  • Compelling protagonist: Kate Ward, the scientist protagonist, is seen as a believable and relatable character.

Q. What are the downsides of Scars Above?

  • Uneven difficulty: The game’s difficulty can be frustrating at times, with some players finding the early sections too punishing.
  • Underdeveloped story and world: While the core concept is interesting, some reviewers felt the story and world-building could have been deeper.
  • Repetitive combat: Once you get the hang of the combat system, some players find it becomes repetitive.

Q. Should I buy Scars Above?

Scars Above is a good fit for players who enjoy a challenge and are looking for a unique sci-fi experience. If you’re a fan of “Soulslike” games and the idea of using science to overcome alien threats appeals to you, then Scars Above is worth checking out. However, if you get discouraged by difficult games or prefer a more polished story, you might want to wait for a price drop or check out some reviews before buying.

Q. Are there any alternatives to Scars Above?

If you’re looking for a challenging sci-fi action game, some alternatives include:

  • Returnal (PlayStation 5)
  • Remnant: From the Ashes
  • Prey (2017)

About the author

Jyoti Kumari

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